Serena Williams on Steubenville victim-blaming remarks: They were ‘insensitive and hurtful’
By Martin Pengelly, The Guardian
World No 1 says of interview in Rolling Stone: ‘What was written – what I supposedly said – is insensitive and hurtful’
Serena Williams has issued a statement in response to a furore created by her remarks regarding the Steubenville high school football rape case. In a Rolling Stone interview that was published online on Tuesday, the women’s tennis world No 1 said that while she did not blame the victim in the case, “she shouldn’t have put herself in that position”.
In her statement, which was published on her website, Williams said: “What happened in Steubenville was a real shock for me. I was deeply saddened. For someone to be raped, and at only sixteen, is such a horrible tragedy! For both families involved – that of the rape victim and of the accused. I am currently reaching out to the girl’s family to let her know that I am deeply sorry for what was written in the Rolling Stone article. What was written – what I supposedly said – is insensitive and hurtful, and I by no means would say or insinuate that she was at all to blame.”
Williams added: “I have fought all of my career for women’s equality, women’s equal rights, respect in their fields – anything I could do to support women I have done. My prayers and support always goes out to the rape victim. In this case, most especially, to an innocent sixteen year old child.”
Williams, who won her 16th grand slam singles title at the French Open this month, is now in London preparing for Wimbledon, which starts next week.
In March, the Steubenville rape case saw two players from a celebrated Ohio high school football team convicted of raping a drunken 16-year-old girl. One of the players was given an extra year in jail, for photographing the girl naked. The case attracted attention from the national press.
According to the Rolling Stone story, Williams said the perpetrators of the crime “did something stupid” and asked: “Do you think it was fair, what they got?” She added: “I’m not blaming the girl, but if you’re a 16-year-old and you’re drunk like that, your parents should teach you: Don’t take drinks from other people.”
Williams also is quoted as saying: ” … she shouldn’t have put herself in that position, unless they slipped her something, then that’s different.”
[Serena Williams via Flickr user y.caradec, Creative Commons licensed]